Cincinnati Reds: Reviewing Jared Hughes’ 2018 season

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 28: Jared Hughes #48 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds after the Reds defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 at Great American Ball Park on July 28, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 28: Jared Hughes #48 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Cincinnati Reds after the Reds defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 6-2 at Great American Ball Park on July 28, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Middle reliever, Jared Hughes, not only provided a much needed lift to the Cincinnati Reds bullpen in 2018, but he also proved to be a fan favorite.

Coming off of a fourth consecutive 90-plus loss season, one would think that there are not a lot of positives with the Cincinnati Reds. Without belaboring the point of starting pitching being the culprit of the Reds misgivings, there were key members of the last year’s team who made significant contributions. One of those key components is middle relief pitcher Jared Hughes.

At 32-years-old, Jared Hughes signed a 2-year/$4.5M contract with the Cincinnati Reds the day after Christmas in 2017. He certainly was not a stranger to the NL Central as he debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, where he spent six seasons in the bullpen, before spending 2017 as a Milwaukee Brewer.

His contract with the Reds has an option for the 2020 season. It could be stated that Hughes’ signing, as well as the signing of fellow reliever David Hernández, has been one of the better moves that the Reds front office has made in recent seasons.

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Last season, Hughes reached career milestones in ERA at 1.94 and innings pitched at 78, while appearing in a career high 72 games. The Reds relied heavily upon both he and Hernández. Due to his mastery of the sinker ball, Hughes proved to be a great fit in hitter friendly Great American Ballpark.

Having only given up four homeruns, I am struggling to recall who the four opposing batters even were. In fact, for his career, Hughes has only given up a total of 31 dingers over the course of 8 MLB seasons; all of which were surrendered while playing against the high octane offenses of NL Central teams.

Many Reds fans will recall the sprint in from the bullpen that accompanies this hardworking Stamford, Connecticut native. A recent tweet from Hughes, which cited a few of the 40 activities that a Major League player cannot participate in, suggests seemingly a great sense of humor.

Scooter Gennett questioned that if Activity 41, sprinting from the bullpen, is allowed? I dare say that in addition to being a great teammate that Jared Hughes’ sprints, contagious smile, and solid productivity on the mound have made him a fan favorite. Hughes also appears to be a solid family man as well, who’s faith is of great importance in his personal life.

What does 2019 hold for Jared Hughes in a Cincinnati Reds uniform? A highly regarded baseball reference website projects him with a modest 4-3 record, but an interesting rise in his ERA to 3.09. It is anticipated that he will be used in the same manner as he was in 2018 as Hughes projects to pitch 70 innings.

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While the Cincinnati Reds are in the throes of improving starting pitching, there is a sense that with the likes of Hughes, Hernández, and Raisel Iglesias, among others, that this 2019 rendition of the Reds bullpen will be very dependable and formidable from the sixth inning on. I know that I am personally looking forward to the sprint from the pen, smile on his face, and ground ball outs that Jared Hughes reliably produces.